Cover image for The ships of air
The ships of air
Wells, Martha.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Eos, [2004]

Physical Description:
408 pages ; 24 cm.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy

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Known for her lush, intricate worlds and complex characters, acclaimed author Martha Wells has delighted readers with her extraordinary fantasy novels of daring and wit. With The Wizard Hunters she launched her most ambitious undertaking yet -- the return to the beloved world of the Nebula Award-nominated The Death of the Necromancer and The Fall of Ile-Rien. Now the saga continues in a triumph of suspense and imagination.

Despite a valiant struggle against superior forces, the country of Ile-Rien has fallen to the onslaught of the relentless Gardier, a faceless army of sorcerers determined to conquer all civilization.

To save the remnants of her country, former playwright Tremaine Valiarde undertakes an epic journey to stop the Gardier. Rescuing the proud ship Queen Ravenna from destruction, Tremaine and a resolute band of sorcerers and warriors set sail across magical seas on a voyage of danger and discovery. For the secret to defeating the enemy -- and to rescuing the world from the Gardier's inimitable hatred -- lies far beyond the walls of the world, and only the tenuous ties of friendship and honor will keep the band together.

But the Gardier are not the only evil in this tumultuous world, and an ancient terror stalks the ornate rooms and shadowy decks of the Queen Ravenna -- a force so malevolent and enigmatic that even the growing power of the sorcerer's sphere may not be enough to save Ile-Rien from utter ruin.

Author Notes

Martha Wells is an American author, born in 1964, based in Texas. She writes fantasy and science fiction novels, novellas, and short stories. Her first novel was, The Element of Fire, published in 1993. Her other work includes City of Bones, The Death of the Necromancer, The Fall of IIe-Rien trilogy, Books of Raksura series, The Murderbot Diaries series, and Stargate universe novels. She was awarded the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella for All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The country of Ile-Rien has fallen to the Gardier, a mysterious enemy whose sorcerous weapons more than match rifles and artillery. Tremaine Valiarde, a notorious sorcerer's dilettante daughter, has begun to unlock the powers of her father's magical sphere, the only weapon that may work against the Gardier. But she is on the run and doesn't know who may be an enemy spy. Moreover, the Gardier operate in more than one world. As this book begins, Tremaine and her comrades are trying to return to their homeland the Gardier captives rescued at the end of The Wizard Hunters BKL My 1 03 and form an alliance with them. Differing customs across and between worlds make this tricky, and since the Gardier occupy Tremaine's homeland, information and assistance is hard to come by. Wells has wrought characters and cultures well, but here they multiply so that one hopes that lists of both will appear in the next Ile-Rien book. Otherwise, this sequel is well done, though easier to appreciate with its predecessor under one's belt. --Frieda Murray Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Wells's fine follow-up to 2003's The Wizard Hunters, Tremaine Valiarde emerges as one of the fantasy genre's more distinctive heroines-intelligent, wry, bitingly funny and impossible not to like. With Ile-Rien overrun by the merciless Gardier, Tremaine's motley band of Rienish and Syprian fighters may be her country's only hope of survival. Luckily for Ile-Rien, Tremaine-with the help of Syprians Illias and Gillead-might just be resourceful enough to find a weakness in the seemingly impervious Gardier's military machine. But first, she has more important things to worry about, like convincing the rest of the Rienish contingent that she's competent to lead them. A nice twist at the end will leave readers eager for the next installment in this strong series. Agent, Matt Bialer. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The land of Ile-Rien has fallen to the Gardier army, a vast and unstoppable force of warriors whose presence spells death or imprisonment for all wizards. On the massive ship Ravenna, Tremaine Valiarde and her companions cross an ethereal portal into a strange land where they hope to find allies. Wells (The Death of the Necromancer) follows The Wizard Hunters with a tale of love and danger, treachery and intrigue-with an unexpected twist at the end. This ongoing series belongs in most fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Ships of Air Book Two of the Fall of Ile-Rien Chapter One So we made ready to leave the shore of the Isle of Storms, in hope of never setting foot on it again. -- "Ravenna's voyage to the Unknown Eastlands," V. Madrais Translation Tremaine picked her way along the ledge, green stinking canal on one hand, rocky outcrop sprouting dense dark foliage on the other. She was exhausted and footsore and at the moment profoundly irritated. She said in exasperation, "All they have to do is get on the damn ship. Is that really going to be so hard?" "It's the eyes," Giliead told her obliquely. He and Ilias were just ahead of her on the narrow shelf of rock, both men having a far easier time of traversing it than she was. The mossy water a few feet below was foul-smelling and stagnant, inhabited only by weeds and the occasional brightly colored snake. These canals cut through the rocky island in several directions, leading to and from the stone buildings that housed entrances to the deserted waterlogged city that wove through the caves below. The builders, whoever they were, had used black stones twenty or thirty feet long to line the watercourse, stacking them like tree trunks in the same way they built their underground walls and bridges. "The ship doesn't have eyes. "Tremaine struggled along, sweating in the damp air. The canal was overhung by the twisted dark-leaved trees; the overcast sky made it even more dim. For years the island had been a trap for seagoing vessels and the crews who sailed them; the whole place felt as if the corruption in the caves below had crept up through the roots of the stunted jungle. "That's the problem," Giliead said, glancing back at her as he brushed a branch aside. "She just looks like -- " "A big blind giant," Ilias supplied, balancing agilely on the slick stones. They were both Syprians, natives of this world on the other side of the etheric gateway from Ile-Rien. They were brothers, though only by adoption, and they looked nothing alike. Ilias had a stocky muscular build and a wild mane of blond hair, some of it tied into a queue that hung down his back. He wore battered dark pants and boots with a sleeveless blue shirt trimmed with leather braid. Giliead was built on a bigger scale, nearly a head taller than Ilias, with chestnut braids and olive skin, dressed in a dark brown shirt under a leather jerkin. Both wore more jewelry than had been fashionable for men in Ile-Rien for many years -- copper earrings, armbands with copper disks. Ilias also had a silver mark on his cheek in the shape of a half-moon, but that wasn't meant to be decorative. Tremaine let out a frustrated breath as she ducked under a heavy screen of pungent leaves. She was the odd woman out, with short mousy brown hair and sunburned skin. She was wearing Syprian clothing too, a loose blue tunic block-printed with green-and-gold designs and breeches of a soft doeskin. Her clothes were a little the worse for wear but in better shape than the unlamented tweed outfits she had left behind in Ile-Rien. At the moment all three of them were covered with bruises, howler scratches and patches of mud and slime from the walls of the underground passages. The last few days had been nothing but fighting and running and swimming and falling, and Tremaine just wanted everyone to quietly get on the ship so they could get the hell away from here. She had also gone to a great deal of trouble to steal the Queen Ravenna for just this purpose and she wanted her new friends to like it. So far they had stubbornly refused to share her enthusiasm. Even Ilias, who had actually sailed on the ship briefly. "It won't matter how big the ship is as long as she sails by curses," Giliead continued frankly. "They're never going to get used to that." Tremaine knew he was probably right, though she wasn't ready to admit it aloud. Syprian civilization was considerably more primitive than Ile-Rien's, and they regarded any mechanical object, from electric lights to clocks, as magical. Worse, Syprians hated magic, since all their sorcerers were murdering lunatics. It was a minor miracle that they had managed to get to this point, where a woman from Ile-Rien who was a friend of sorcerers could talk about this subject with Syprians at all. It helped that they were a sea people and fairly cosmopolitan, despite their prejudices. "But the Ravenna doesn't use magic," she pointed out. "The steam engines -- " She stopped when she realized the words were coming out in Rienish. If there was a Syrnaic word for "steam engine" the translation spell that had given Tremaine the knowledge of the language hadn't seen fit to include it. "There's boilers, and you put water in them, and burn coal or oil or something, and the steam makes it go. It's not magic," she finished lamely. Giliead and Ilias paused to exchange a look; Giliead's half of it was dubious and Ilias's was ironic. "They always say that," Ilias put in. He had spent nearly one whole day in Ile-Rien and now qualified as the local expert. "Wagons without horses, wizard lights, wizard weapons, there's an explanation for everything." Giliead shook his head as he started forward again. "If that's our only way off the island, we're going to have trouble." Ilias nodded. "It doesn't matter about me, I'm marked anyway," he said matter-of-factly. The mark he spoke of was the little half-moon of silver branded into his cheek. It was what Syprian law said anyone who had ever fallen under a sorcerer's curse should wear. "And Gil's exempt from the law because he's a Chosen Vessel, but it's the others I'm worried about. If the people in Cineth harbor see them come off that ship, they could all end up ostracized or worse. And some of the younger ones come from pretty good families, they could still have a chance of getting married." The Ships of Air Book Two of the Fall of Ile-Rien . Copyright © by Martha Wells. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Ships of Air: Book Two of the Fall of Ile-Rien by Martha Wells All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.